Is military C-RAM development
as efficient as it could be?
The Pentagon is spending substantial time, effort, and money for
counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar
(C-RAM) technology to protect U.S.
warfighters on the front lines and
on invasion beaches from enemy
airborne threats. It’s fitting that military leaders should develop these
kinds of technologies in this era
where enemy threats to deployed
warfighters can take so many forms,
from conventional military forces to
concealed terrorists wielding weapons ranging from improvised explosive devices to smart munitions.
U.S. military forces have several
systems deployed or in development
to help form an umbrella of protection over vulnerable U.S. and allied
warfighters operating well within
the range of most enemy weapons.
In development is the U.S. Air
Force Raytheon Three-Dimensional
Expeditionary Long-Range Radar
(3DELRR) system to detect, iden-
tify, and track objects at great dis-
tances in conflicts that could involve
large numbers of enemy advanced
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),
fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and
ballistic and cruise missiles. Also
in development is the U.S. Marine
Corps Northrop Grumman Ground/
Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR),
designed to protect Marines on
attack beaches from low-observable
targets with low radar cross sections,
Grumman, moreover, is enhancing
G/ATOR capability to counter enemy
rockets, artillery, and mortars.
Another battlefield radar system
in the works is the U.S. Army SRCTec
AN/TPQ-49 and AN/TPQ-50 lightweight counter-mortar radar (LCMR)
to help defend deployed warfighters
from rocket, artillery, and mortar
attacks using 360-degree surveillance and 3D rocket, artillery, and
mortar location using non-rotating,
electronically steered antennas.
Already deployed is the U.S. Army
Lockheed Martin AN/TPQ-53 radar
system to protect against rockets,
mortar rounds, and artillery shells.
This radar also is designed to pinpoint the location of enemy launchers to direct counter-battery fire.
In addition to battlefield air-defense and C-RAM radar systems,
some Army and Marine Corps programs intend to fuse data from
sensors and slave them to weapon
systems layered from close-in to
long-range distances to destroy or
disable enemy airborne threats.
Northrop Grumman, for exam-
ple, is providing hardware and ser-
vices for Army C-RAM capabilities to
protect brigade combat teams from
enemy airborne attack. Northrop
Grumman is integrating exist-
ing field artillery and air defense
sensors, a commercial off-the-shelf
(COTS) warning system, and a U.S.
Navy-developed interceptor to pro-
tect forward-deployed warfighters.
Lockheed Martin is develop-
ing Extended Area Protection and
Survivability (EAPS) Integrated
Demonstration (ID) technology to
counter incoming enemy rocket,
artillery, and mortar rounds, as well
as enemy cruise missiles and UAVs.
Other military research projects
seek to fuse battlefield radar sys-
tems, other kinds of sensors, and
weapons to enhance C-RAM capa-
bility. One is the Office of Naval
Research’s Target Processing Center
Sensor Correlation and Fusion proj-
ect, which seeks not only to detect
enemy artillery, rocket, and mortar
rounds and reduce false alarms, but
also to speed counter fire to destroy
enemy projectiles, artillery emplace-
ments, and launchers.
This sounds like a lot of different
projects intended to protect military
forces from, you guessed it, rockets,
artillery, and mortars. I’m not suggesting this is a bad thing, yet I do
wonder if U.S. military C-RAM efforts
might be duplicative or otherwise
potentially wasteful. I have to ask if
there’s any way that at least some of
the enabling technologies of these
different programs could combine to
enhance efficiencies, while not compromising on capabilities. Í